Paul’s mitigation statement

Paul standing in front of a wooden gate which has a sign on it which says 'Strawberry Hill Farm' and another which has a sad face and HS2 crossed out.

I am 67 in March and up until 2019 I have been a law-abiding citizen. I have spent my working life in business and organisations as a leadership professional focusing on Leadership Responsibility and business practice, with a strong belief that principle centred businesses could contribute to a sustainable and safe future.

However, when in 2019 I became aware of the compelling scientific evidence around the immediate climate crisis, I realised that it was too late to rely on business to drive the agenda for change, particularly in view of the wide spread ignorance and denial of scientific evidence.

It was then I decided to actively see what I could do to help build awareness of our predicament. I am pleased to say that we now are living at a time where awareness of the climate crisis is widespread. However, response to that knowledge falls short and it was this that dro.ve me to add my voice to those with growing concerns that we are moving past key deadlines that will radically impact our environment and future generations

In the UK I would like to be able to say that our Government is responding accordingly, and indeed we are hearing the right words being spoken, but unfortunately in many instances the actions are directly contradictory to what was being said(see below).

This was made evident to me when, just before my arrest in September, I visited the HS2 camp at Jones Hill, and unfortunately directly witnessed this hypocrisy. I also witnessed it again at the Euston Square site in London and it was then I decided that I wanted to use my legitimate right to protest by sitting in protest on Lambeth Bridge.

Below I have listed the factual evidence of the duplicitous statements made by the Government and the reality in terms of the HS2 project

“At home we are putting biodiversity targets into law; removing deforestation from our own supply chains” (Boris Johnson )

“We are going to make sure the natural world stays right there, top of the global agenda” (Boris Johnson 2020)

“Left unchecked the consequences will be catastrophic for us all” (Boris Johnson 2020)

“Extinction is forever” (Boris Johnson) 

Fact: HS2 is currently the biggest deforestation project in Europe

Fact: HS2 will not be carbon neutral in its 120 year lifespan-HS2 Review

As well as destroying our natural ancient woodland heritage, there is scientific evidence, endorsed by David Attenborough, which points to a direct correlation between pandemics and the displacement of virus carrying smaller mammals through deforestation and biodiversity breakdown.

 Our PM’s recent words reflect the urgency of the climate crisis and yet continuing projects like HS2 directly contradicts his own declarations. Opposition from the public to HS2 is increasing daily and a growing number of MPs are also beginning to question its legitimacy and need.

In summary I felt compelled to call out and hold the government to account for not living up to it’s strong and public commitments and for actively pursuing such projects that demonstrate that their words are merely that, just words – but ones with damaging consequences.

Paul Wielgus combines his Buddhist and secular mindfulness teaching with Eco-Dharma practices such as Joanna Macy’s ‘Work That Reconnect’; he is currently engaging in an enquiry into Buddhist attitudes to racial justice and related issues.

Posts and articles are the views of their authors and not necessarily of the XR Buddhists group.

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